Earlier this afternoon ClipperNut called me with his new prediction. "The Clippers are going to be 0-9 when they finally get to Detroit." It wasn't the first time I heard that today, it's all over the Clippers forums. He continued to rattle off their difficult schedule, "After tonight they face Denver, Utah, New Orleans, San Antonio..." So I calmly showed my Clippers Pride telling him "These are all games they can win."
Well ClipperNut worked as the anti-jinx as the Clippers tore the Oklahoma Thunder apart with a 107-92 win. Finally the Clippers put together four consecutive quarters on the plus-side.
The win does beg this question: Is the pressure too hot for Baron Davis to make his proper impact on a game? For the second consecutive game the team looked less pressured, more fluid and experimental (in a good way) playing without Baron Davis, who is out with a sore knee.
Speaking of pressure, Eric Bledsoe, the rookie point guard making his second consecutive start, was relieved of some pressure as Coach Del Negro had Eric Gordon run the team to positive results. Bledsoe returned the favor by scoring 17 points and handing out 8 assists (against three turnovers).
This was also the second consecutive game the Clippers had more blocks then their opponents (6-2). This included two big Bledsoe blocks and a nice forth quarter Rasual Butler blocked shot during a final Oklahoma City comeback effort.
The game had some some good highlights - finally. But there were the problem areas that haven't yet completely fixed themselves. Namely Ryan Gomes game and Chris Kaman's slump. Gomes somewhat showed up, despite shooting 3-8 from the field, he ended with a nice dozen that included two triples and 7 boards. Kaman has just been a disaster early on. Some people may be a little over-reacting, but Kaman is going to show up big as the season progresses, but in the meanwhile it is good to have a supporting cast that can hold their own make such a tremendous impact on a game. Hopefully as this trust builds, Kaman will be allowed to more naturally resurrect his game and return to his all-star form.
Another big problem for the Clippers is going to be their ongoing free throw trouble. As it is now, having DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin on the court at the same time will produce gasps and laughs. The rebounding will be outstanding, the blocks will be breath taking and the dunks will be awe-inspiring -- but the free-throws are going to cast an evil shadow over all those fun things. In tonight's blowout, the Clippers shot 52 percent from the stripe, DJ and BG were a combined for a miserable 5-15. If the Clippers can demand that sort of respect, teams will eventually capitalize on this area, but that may be a little too much speculation. For now lets enjoy our first win of 2010-2011.